Beyond Checkboxes: 6 Cloud Security Measures All Healthcare Organizations Should Take

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Modern healthcare is a full participant in the digital economy, and personal health information (PHI) is at its center. But today’s digital landscape is a volatile threat environment where sensitive personal data is a coveted commodity. Minimizing exposure, liability, and risk to PHI is a necessity with visibility all the way up to the board-level in every healthcare organization.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) includes the HIPAA Privacy Rule which establishes national standards to protect PHI. Every organization conducting health care transactions electronically is familiar with its rules, and being “HIPAA Compliant” is mandatory. But such standards can create a false sense of security; is simply checking the boxes and satisfying an annual audit really enough to keep attackers at bay? Do standards written over the course of decades adequately cover today’s rapidly evolving threat landscape? Are processes developed in the days of enterprise data-centers sufficient to protect containerized microservices running in the cloud?

The short answer is No: Merely being compliant is no longer enough. Digital leaders in proactive healthcare organizations — from providers to insurance companies — have realized that they must do much more to protect themselves from threats. Embracing DevSecOps and CI/CD gives healthcare organizations a strong foundation for security that goes beyond compliance with true full stack security observability.

To meet and exceed today’s compliance requirements — to truly protect their most valuable information — organizations need to put the following in place:

  1. Continuous security monitoring of the full cloud stack
  2. Security that is purpose-built for modern cloud architecture
  3. A secure cloud SDLC
  4. Deep system auditing
  5. Powerful forensics capabilities
  6. Security that scales

1. Boost Security Observability With Continuous Security Monitoring

Attackers are smarter than ever, and they have adapted their techniques for today’s new cloud and hybrid environments. The window of time to catch attacks before they do real damage is shrinking. That means organizations must monitor for and protect against, not only the known threats, but the unknown ones too. Adopting a comprehensive, always-on, always-watching approach to cloud security will flag suspicious user logins as well as configuration or key file changes in real time, so teams can take the necessary steps to mitigate potential threats to data systems and the PHI they store.

2. Broaden Your Watch With Security at All Phases and Tiers of Cloud

DevOps and CD allow healthcare organizations to solve customer problems and deliver value more rapidly than ever before, shrinking software delivery cycle times from months to days or hours. And containers and microservices allow them to break the changes into smaller, more easily deployed pieces. While that’s all good for innovation, it also means more points of risk. Organizations must monitor security throughout the development lifecycle — from dev to CI to production. And they must monitor security throughout the entire cloud stack — from the cloud infrastructure control plane through containers and orchestrators, all the way to the application tier.

3. Don’t Just Secure the Software You Build; Secure the Software You Build With

Modern software development teams rely on a vast portfolio of third-party tools (many of them open source) to build, test, and deploy their applications. These tools can be a rich target for attackers. They may contain valuable secrets like API keys, database passwords, TLS certificates, and more. So they need to be protected just as strongly as the applications that are built with them. Security monitoring should be implemented in development and test environments in addition to production.

4. Always Be Recording With Deep System Audit Trails

If patient data is breached, you’ll need to find out exactly what happened in your network. Audit trails can “rewind the tape” to answer the who, what, where, when, and how so teams can make informed decisions on how to respond in the event of a compromise. Audit trails also meet many compliance requirements by providing deep insights to understand the entirety of an attack’s impact.

5. Meet Compliance Regulations in Rapidly Expanding Cloud Environments

With the speed at which healthcare companies are expanding in the cloud, it has never been trickier — or more critical — to protect important data. To meet HIPAA requirements, organizations must ensure that internal controls and processes are developed and followed to give them visibility into who is accessing and sharing what, where, and when in their cloud environments. By selecting a cloud security provider that evolves as quickly as the threat landscape, organizations can ensure that they’re continuously upholding their commitment to patients, providers, and partners.

6. Simplify and Automate Scaling

As healthcare companies continue to take advantage of all the benefits the cloud has to offer (scalability, reliability, cost savings), they’re rapidly expanding their presence in the cloud. What starts off as 10 servers quickly becomes 1,000. This is where a cloud-native security monitoring solution proves its value, given that it can auto-scale up or down with the capacity of your infrastructure to ensure that you have continuous visibility across your dynamic environment.

Takeaway: It Takes More Than Compliance Checklists to Protect in the Cloud

Compliance needs like HIPAA are a good starting point for security, but by themselves, they are not sufficient. Healthcare companies cannot afford to assume that just “checking the boxes” will be enough to protect sensitive patient and institutional data. But the reality is that too frequently, internal data security teams only have enough time in the day to focus on managing and responding to threats and have limited resources to dedicate to integrating and maintaining technology.

What these teams need is a security application that doesn’t require development resources to deploy, maintain, and manage. That’s where Threat Stack comes in. Threat Stack already helps many of today’s most innovative healthcare organizations meet a broad range of HIPAA AWS compliance requirements with ease, and go beyond the checkbox items to achieve true full stack security observability. Let us help you keep patient data and systems protected and secure so you can focus on providing value and care.

See Threat Stack in Action

Threat Stack secures your cloud infrastructure workloads. See how.

Book Your DemoDemo